Good start, promising future

【Special attention】

  On March 12, the China-Laos Railway, a flagship project of mutually beneficial cooperation and joint construction of the "Belt and Road" between China and Laos, ushered in the 100th day of its official opening to traffic.

On December 3, 2021, witnessed by the leaders of China and Laos, the Fuxing Hulk at Kunming Station in China and the Lancang EMU at Vientiane Station in Laos were fully loaded with the expectations of the two peoples. , started a journey across mountains and rivers, running towards each other.

In the past 100 days, the China-Laos Railway has been flowing in and out of people and goods, and tangible results have been achieved at the beginning.

100 days to hand over a dazzling transcript

  The new land transport channel plays a significant role, and China-Laos relations are even closer.

The total length of the China-Laos Railway is 1035 kilometers. The line starts from Kunming in the north, passes through Yuxi, Pu'er, Xishuangbanna, passes through the Mohan railway port in China and the Boding railway port in Laos, and finally arrives at Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

This is the first international railway that is mainly invested and constructed by the Chinese side, adopts Chinese technical standards throughout the line, is constructed and operated by cooperation between China and Laos, uses Chinese equipment and is directly connected to the Chinese railway network.

  According to statistics, from the opening of the China-Laos Railway to February 27, 2022, a total of 1.569 million passengers have been sent, with an average of 18,000 passengers per day; a total of 272 inbound and outbound freight trains with 5,967 vehicles and 195,000 tons have been operated, of which 139 and 3,138 are outbound. 73,000 tons, 133 trains of 2,829 vehicles and 122,000 tons.

At present, China has become Laos' largest source of investment and largest export market.

Under the global impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the transportation situation of the China-Laos railway exceeded expectations, creating a good start for further railway maintenance and operation, development and construction along the line in the future, and promoting the continuous benefit of the China-Laos railway.

  Breaking down the barriers to regional development, the "land-linked country" effect began to emerge.

Laos was originally a "land-locked country", with a land area of ​​236,000 square kilometers. It was surrounded by five countries: China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar. In addition, 80% of the land area was mountains and plateaus, which made Laos' traffic extremely difficult.

Before the completion of the China-Laos Railway, Laos had only a 3.5-kilometer-long railway linking Thailand.

In the era of globalization, this severely restricts the travel and international exchanges of the Lao people.

The China-Laos Railway is a major achievement of the “Belt and Road” initiative and Laos’ strategy of “turning a land-locked country into a land-linked country”. It has changed Laos from a “land-locked country” to a “land-linked country”, greatly improving the level of Laos’ transportation infrastructure and improving its infrastructure. Developing the environment and attracting foreign capital will effectively boost its economic growth and benefit its people's livelihood.

  Realize the superposition effect with RCEP, and promote regional development in synergy.

With the official entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the China-Laos Railway is becoming an important support for China and regional countries to deeply participate in the RCEP.

The China-Laos Railway drives the industrial layout along the line, and the "long tail effect" of the high-quality economic development of the large channel is more prominent, enabling China and Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and other Indo-China Peninsula countries to have new convenient land transportation channels.

It is worth mentioning that the freight time of the China-Laos railway has been shortened by nearly 20 days compared with the traditional shipping. The goods can reach major cities in Indo-China Peninsula such as Bangkok, Thailand in just one day through rail-rail and rail-road combined transport.

In terms of cargo resources, through the China-Laos Railway, hundreds of commodities from Yunnan, Chongqing, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and other domestic areas can be exported to Southeast Asia, and raw materials such as natural rubber, tapioca starch, and iron ore in Southeast Asia are also available. A steady stream into the country.

In terms of tourism resources, the China-Laos Railway provides convenient transportation for domestic tourists who leave Southeast Asia via Xishuangbanna, and tourists from Southeast Asian countries who enter China via Xishuangbanna.

In terms of regional cooperation, the goods transported by the China-Laos railway have been exported to RCEP members such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Helping development, not a "debt trap"

  The international community must have many benefits for the China-Laos Railway.

Thailand's "Bangkok Post" believes that the China-Laos railway will attract more investment from China and other countries, especially in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry and mining.

At the same time, Lao products can enter China through the China-Laos Railway and then enter the European market.

The World Bank report "From Inland to Land Link: Unlocking the Potential of China-Laos Railway Connectivity" proposes that after the opening of the China-Laos railway, the freight cost from Vientiane to Kunming will be reduced by 40% to 50%, and the cost of domestic routes in Laos will be reduced by 20%. to 40%.

  In the face of more than eloquent facts, the world is more aware of some foreign media reports that have a biased position and distort the facts. These reports either spread rumors that Laos was under coercion, or exaggerated the debt risks caused by the China-Laos railway to Laos.

  What is the truth?

Laos, the party involved, has the most say.

Lao Prime Minister Pankan said in an interview with the media that the Laos-China Railway is the first railway between Laos and four neighboring countries. It is a major achievement and the aspiration of the Lao people.

The Laos-China Railway is in line with the development needs of the Lao people, and will greatly promote personnel and trade exchanges and bring more benefits to the people.

Pankan also emphasized that the so-called "Laos-China Railway has put Laos in a debt trap" is completely slanderous. The Laos-China Railway is jointly invested by Laos and China. Debt incurred during the construction and operation of railway projects.

  In fact, some foreign media's reports of deliberately discrediting the "Belt and Road" project are often "slapped in the face" very quickly.

It will be recalled that the American scholar Deborah Brautigam works at the China-Africa Institute of Johns Hopkins University. "Debt Trap Diplomacy Views", said that in a telephone interview with the BBC, he cited a large number of specific examples to refute the claim that "China promotes the 'Belt and Road' initiative using 'debt trap' diplomacy", and believes that it is not true There is a "debt trap", but these well-founded views were maliciously edited by the BBC, turning her into a view that she agrees with "China set up a 'debt trap'", completely misinterpreting her original intention.

Once the article was published, there was an uproar in public opinion.

Afterwards, the BBC contacted Brautigam and apologized, saying the "editing error was due to the inexperience of the producers".

Brautigam is skeptical, arguing that "it can also be interpreted as artificial."

  Those who seek salvation in righteousness will gain, and those who cause things to the people will succeed.

The China-Laos Railway has released the vitality of the region and will help countries in the region to jointly move towards a better future.

The China-Laos Railway is not only the "Road to Wealth" and "Road to Happiness" for Laos and even Southeast Asian countries, but also another vivid portrayal of the "Belt and Road" initiative to benefit neighboring countries.

(Reporter Chen Xiaoyang of this newspaper)